Special to the News-Journal
Visitors to Stephen F. Austin State University’s swine center are more likely to find associate professor John Mehaffey by students and pigs than in a traditional office space.
Although Mehaffey, associate professor of agriculture in SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, didn’t initially plan to pursue a career in academia, according to Sarah Fuller, outreach coordinator for the Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. As the adage goes, she writes, he has taken to it like a pig to mud.
Mehaffey’s dedication to students and the hands-on nature of his classes earned him a 2019 Teaching Excellence Award. The award, given out annually to one faculty member in each of SFA’s six colleges and a seventh Faculty Senate honoree, is based on knowledge of subject matter, quality of lectures and assignments and enthusiasm for teaching.
“My favorite part of teaching is the students,” Mehaffey said. “You get to see a lot of different perspectives on life, and each student has something to offer to our program, to me as an individual and to my family.”
Mehaffey joined SFA in 2012 following a career in research and development in the meat industry.
He believes this experience in the private sector provides him with valuable insight to share with students.
Students in Mehaffey’s classes obtain direct and extensive experience in swine, goat and sheep production — from reproduction and health to sales.
“I almost see my classroom as an experiment,” he said. “The swine center is a constantly evolving process.”
Mehaffey explained that because there is not a large market for commercial swine in Texas, the center focuses its efforts on providing quality livestock for 4-H and FFA students to show across the state.
In addition to managing the sheep, goat and swine centers, Mehaffey serves as the faculty advisor for the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and the SFA Livestock Judging Team.